Corpse and Quioccos

Council of Powhatan, E. Benjamin Andrews, History of the United States, from the Earliest Discovery of America to the Present Time, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

The Indians are religious in preserving the Corpses of their Kings and Rulers after Death, which they order in the following manner: First, they neatly flay off the Skin as entire as they can, slitting it only in the Back; then they pick all the Flesh off from the Bones as clean as possible, leaving the Sinews fastned to the Bones, that they may preserve the Joints together; then they dry the Bones in the Sun, and put them into the Skin again, which in the mean time has been kept from drying or shrinking; when the Bones are placed right in the Skin, they nicely fill up the Vacuities, with a very fine white Sand. After this they sew up the Skin again, and the Body looks as if the Flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep the Skin from shrinking, by the help of a little Oil or Grease, which saves it also from Corruption. Tho Skin being thus prepar’d, they lay it in an apartment for that purpose, upon a large Shelf rais’d above the Floor. This Shelf is spread with Mats, for the Corpse to rest easy on, and skreened with the same, to keep it from the Dust. The Flesh they lay upon Hurdles in the Sun to dry, and when it is thoroughly dried, it is sowed up in a Basket, and set at the Feet of the Corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they set up a Quioccos, or Idol, which they believe will be a Guard to the Corpse. Here Night and Day one or the other of the Priests must give his Attendance, to take care of the dead Bodies. So great an Honour and Veneration have these ignorant and unpolisht People for their Princes even after they are dead.

Robert Beverley, The History of Virginia, In Four Parts, Second Edition, London: 1722, p. 185.

Ye Present Scituation of Affairs

Detail of portrait of Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Spotswood by Charles Bridges (1736).
Detail of portrait of Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Spotswood by Charles Bridges (1736).

VIRGINIA, October 15, 1712.

To ye Council of Trade:


The arrival of the Dulwich Frygat, with her Maj’t’s proclamation for a Cessation of Arms, gives me the opportunity of a few Minutes to inform y’r Lord’ps of ye present Scituation of Affairs in these parts.

The Indians continue their Incursions in North Carolina, and the Death of Colo. Hyde, their Gov’r, w’ch happened the beginning of last Month, increases the misery of that province, so much weakened already by their own divisions, that no measures projected by those in the Governm’t for curbing the Heathen can be prosecuted.

This Unhappy State of her Maj’t’s Subjects in my Neighbourhood is ye more Affecting to me because I have very little hopes of being enabled to relieve them by our Assembly, which I have called to meet next Week; for the Mob of this Country, having tryed their Strength in the late Election and finding themselves able to carry whom they please, have generally chosen representatives of their own Class, who as their principal Recommendation have declared their resolution to raise no Tax on the people, let the occasion be what it will. This is owing to a defect in the Constitution, which allows to every one tho’ but just out of the Condition of a Serv’t, and that can but purchase half an acre of Land, an equal Vote with the Man of the best Estate in the Country.

The Militia of this Colony is perfectly useless without Arms or amunition, and by an unaccountable infatuation, no arguments I have used can prevail on these people to make their Militia more Serviceable, or to fall into any other measures for the Defence of their Country. The fear of Enemys by Sea, (except that of pirates,) are now happily removed by the peace, (which if on no other acc’t than that alone,) ought to be received here as the greatest and most valuable blessing; but the Insurrections of our own Negroes, or the Invasions of the Indians, are no less to be dreaded, while the people are so stupidly averse to the only means they have left to protect themselves Against either of these Events. I shall, for my own part, take all the care I am capable of (under these disadvantages) for the safety of her Ma’tie’s Subjects, and still endeav’r to testify to yo’r Lord’ps that I am with due respect.

Take the Hatchet into Y’r Hands

Portrait of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, by an unknown artist, c. 1760-1765, National Portrait Gallery, London.
Portrait of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, by an unknown artist, c. 1760-1765, National Portrait Gallery, London.

January 1754.

Brethren of the Six Nat’s:

Since the Designs of Y’r Enemies can be no longer doubted of, and it is manifest that they intend to deprive You of Y’r hunting Grounds on the Ohio, and Liberties, and to break the Peace that they have pretended to maintain with us, I have therefore thought proper as Y’r good Friend and Brother to let You know that I have given Com’o and Orders to my Officers to join You with some Forces if You will take the Hatchet into Y’r Hands. And as there is no Quest’n but that Y’r Enemy may be now easily driven away if not suffer’d to become more numerous, I do therefore advise You not to loose any Time, but imediately to send out Y’r Warriors; to whose Assistance I propose in a short Time to send a considerable Number of our Soldiers. Wishing You Health and Success I bid You Farewell.

Lake Apalachy

Map of Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina in North America (c. 1715) by Johann Baptist Homann. John Lederer's Lake Ushery  is the fictional Lake Apalachy (here Apalache Lacus).
Map of Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina in North America (c. 1715) by Johann Baptist Homann. John Lederer’s “Lake Ushery” is the fictional Lake Apalachy (here Apalache Lacus).

From Sara I kept a South-Southwest course until the five and twentieth of June, and then I reached Wisacky. This three-days march was more troublesome to me than all my travels besides: for the direct way which I took from Sara to Wisacky, is over a continued Marish over-grown with Reeds, from whose roots sprung knotty stumps as hard and sharp as Flint. I was forc’d to lead my horse most part of the way, and wonder that he was not either plunged in the Bogs, or lamed by those rugged knots.

This Nation is subject to a neighbour-King residing upon the bank of a great Lake called Ushery, invironed of all sides with Mountains, and Wisacky Marish; and therefore I will detain the Reader no longer with the discourse of them, because I comprehend them in that of Ushery.

The six and twentieth of June, having crossed a fresh River which runs into the Lake of Ushery, I came to the Town, which was more populous then any I had seen before in my March. The King dwells some three miles from it, and therefore I had no opportunity of seeing him the two nights which I stayed there. This Prince, though his Dominions are large and populous, is in continual fear of the Oustack-Indians seated on the opposite side of the Lake; a people so addicted to Arms, that even their women come into the field, and shoot Arrows over their husbands shoulders, who shield them with Leathern Targets. The men it seems should fight with Silver-Hatchets: for one of the Usheryes told me they were of the same metal with the Pomel of my Sword. They are a cruel generation, and prey upon people, whom they either steal, or force away from the Usheryes in Periago’s, to sacrifice to their Idols. The Ushery-women delight much in feather-ornaments, of which they have great variety; but Peacocks in most esteem, because rare in those parts. They are reasonably handsome, and have more of civility in their carriage then I observed in the other Nations with whom I conversed; which is the reason that the men are more effeminate and lazie.

These miserable wretches are strangely infatuated with illusions of the devil: it caused no small horrour in me, to see one of them wrythe his neck all on one side, foam at the mouth, stand bare-foot upon burning coals for near an hour, and then recovering his senses, leap out of the fire without hurt, or signe of any. This I was an eye-witness of.

The water of Ushery-lake seemed to my taste a little brackish; which I rather impute to some Mineral-waters which flow into it, then to any saltness it can take from the Sea, which we may reasonably suppose is a great way from it. Many pleasant Rivulets fall into it, and it is stored with great plenty of excellent fish. I judged it to be about ten leagues broad: for were not the other shore very high, it could not be discerned from Ushery. How far this Lake tends Westerly, or where it ends, I could neither learn or guess.

The Discoveries of John Lederer (London, 1672).

Christened in Roanoak

The 13. of August, our Sauage Manteo, by the commandement of Sir Walter Ralegh, was christened in Roanoak, and called Lord thereof, and of Dasamongueponke, in reward of his faithfull seruice.

— Governor John White on the baptism of Croatan Indian, Manteo, 1st Baron of Roanoke and Dasamongueponke, on 13 August 1587.

Pater Noster in Komqwejwi’kasikl

The Pater Noster in Mi’kmaq “hieroglyphs,” with glosses in romanized Mi’kmaq and German; Carl Faulmann, Das Buch der Schrift, Vienna, 1880.